REEBOK’S NET OFF 17 PERCENT IN 1ST QUARTER

STOUGHTON, Mass. — Despite a 58.2 percent sales increase in its domestic apparel division, Reebok International’s first-quarter earnings dropped 17 percent to $40.2 million, or 69 cents a share, from $48.4 million, or 64 cents, based on more shares outstanding.
Reebok noted its earnings-per-share comparisons benefited from its share repurchase programs, including one that was concluded on Aug. 27 during which the company repurchased 17 million shares at $36 each.
U.S. apparel sales for the three months ended March 31 were $97.98 million. Reebok’s total sales rose 3 percent to $930 million.
In a conference call, the company said the apparel division has seen strength in basics and the Greg Norman golf line. International apparel sales posted double-digit sales increases.
The company noted that overall results for the year-ago period include the Avia subsidiary, which was sold in June 1996.
“We are encouraged by the ongoing success of Reebok’s U.S. apparel business,” Paul Fireman, chairman and chief executive, said in a statement. “With the trend toward more casual dress and the increasing influence of athletics on fashion, we see many opportunities to significantly broaden our apparel product offerings into sports fashion and lifestyle categories.”
The results were released after the stock market closed Thursday, when Reebok stock on the New York Stock Exchange dipped 1/4 to 45 3/4. On Friday, the stock slid 5 5/8 or 12.3 percent to close at 40 1/8. It was the sixth-biggest percentage drop on the Big Board during the session.
Shares of Nike also took a hit Friday, losing 2 points to close at 52 1/8 as 6,120,200 shares traded, making it the third most active issue on the NYSE.

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